The Cove

Dolphins are like ice cream; most people love them and seeing one is as good as dessert. I've always wanted to hug one. Which is why the movie we saw last night, The Cove, was so disturbing. The movie uncovered and documented the hidden slaughter of dolphins in a cove of a Japanese city that upon first glance appeared to also love dolphins.

The city however was ground zero for the capture and sale of dolphins to the big business world of theme parks. It's the thousands of dolphins that don't make it to the stage that are packaged as meat, high mercury meat, and often labeled as whale, which commands a higher price. Unbeknownst to the public a good portion of dolphin also found its way into school lunch menus.


The film plays like a James Bond movie. There's bad guys, good guys, high tech cameras, cameras hidden in rocks; there are jagged cliffs, guarded tunnels and tails everywhere. I had to remind myself to breathe more than once. The sailor guy and I rotated between slouching lower and lower in our seats to sitting on the edge of them. One couple walked out.

Eating dolphins is one thing, depleting the oceans another but battling for first place in the list of disturbing was the politics that cover up the dolphin harvest.

Taking a broader view the film was a microcosm for many arms of our food system that are hidden and guarded; protected from view. It was about the world and not only Japan.

The good news however was the film itself. The effort, experience, community, commitment, knowledge and technology that went into making it were amazing. And when the crew wasn't running undercover they found time to laugh.

I love that. It gave me time to sit up and breathe.

Is the movie playing near you?

5 comments:

Green Bean said...

How heartbreaking. These sort of movies always do me in. Sounds like an important film though. Thanks for sharing.

Theresa said...

I do despair at our human folly some days. Thanks for posting about this, difficult as it is to hear about. Good for you for sitting through the whole thing.

Katrine said...

philip adams, an australian radio icon, did an interview with the director about this a few nights ago that you might be interested in. 23,000 dolphins slaughtered ... it's incomprehensible...

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/stories/2009/2654647.htm

Andree said...

I'm not sure how to say this, since I too find the slaughter and the cover up appalling, but I had an interesting discussion with 110 college students....

I had my students watch something that sounds similar to this in the oceanography class I teach. It was more focused on the slaughter (not the cover up), but I was proud of my students for thinking outside the box. They discussed how we treat cows as well as that in the Japanese culture the word dolphin means something like gangster. Its interesting what we value as a warm fuzzy creature that others may not and vice versa.

We need to be able to combine ethical treatment with sustainable use AND regulated "harvest" (plant, animal, mineral, whatever) of our resources....

Thanks for bringing up this movie. I'm excited to potentially use it with my class!

kale for sale said...

Green Bean - The filmmakers did a good job of balancing the information though so when we left we didn't feel completely done in but more like you said, that we had learned something important. And the pace of it at time was thrilling. Thanks for reading about it.

Theresa - There was no way I was leaving except I wanted to follow the couple that did leave and ask them exactly why they were.

Katrine - Thanks for the link. I love audio interviews with authors, directors, with all kinds of people actually. The 23,000 is annually. The incomprehensible part was the method of the harvest and that they are being harvested towards extinction. Not that either of those things are unique to dolphins but focusing on the dolphins gets a bit more attention than a homely white fish.

Andree - You said it all beautifully. Thank you. And yes be proud! Your students are brilliant. - And for what it's worth there were quite a few families with young teenage kids at the show. And none of them left.